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tv   The War Room With Jennifer Granholm  Current  December 11, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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>> jennifer: i'm jennifer granholm. tonight in "the war room," a scene i never thought i would live to see in my beloved michigan. protestors fighting for the very existence of the unions that built that state. that built the middle class. that built this amazing country. someone, please tell me what are we becoming?
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>> jennifer: tonight we're going to go straight to the state of michigan where more than 10,000 protestors descended on lansing, the capitol to raise their voices against harsh new anti-labor laws. >> right to work has got to go! >> he wants to turn us around make $10 an hour, what are we going to do for our families? >> jennifer: preach it, sir. despite the uproar outside the capitol, inside it, the republican-led legislature still passed right-to-work legislation today. that legislation would muzzle the union voice in michigan by taking away the requirement that everyone who's in a union shop should pay union dues. you might ask why is that a big deal. well if not everyone's required to pay you're going to have people who enjoy the advantages
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of a union better pay and better benefits environment but who don't contribute to the union's survival at all. this only works if we're all in it together. and more than that, this law is going to starve unions of their funding. from a political perspective in this democracy that is their power. there are actually two separate pieces of legislation. first applies to private sector employees like autoworkers. second one is public sector employees like teachers. though, of course, it exempts firefighters and police officers which is a classic move that republicans use off ton pit unions against each other. this is the same trick that they probably learned i'm sure everybody knows from their colleagues in wisconsin. but even as protests continue, these bills are heading to governor rick schneider's desk. what's he going to do? back in february, he criticized the right-to-work laws in
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congressional testimony. he criticized them. >> my perspective is i made it clear it is not on my agenda. right to work is an issue that's a very divisive issue. i don't believe it is appropriate in michigan during 2012. that's the governor that people elected. somebody who was going to take a middle ground. who was not going to be divisive. but since then, he's changed his tune and today he vowed to sign those very devices laws. >> right to work is about the relationship between the union and workers. and this is about being proworkers giving workers the choice. if anything, this should encourage unions to be more responsive to workers so in many respects, it could be a positive for unions over the longer term. >> jennifer: positive for unions really? sounds a lot like the message of the koch brothers. americans for prosperity. that right wing group told "the new york times," nick, today that the bill's passage is "a
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win for union protesters even though they might not know it yet." really? it is a win for unions. that's why they're out there today. that was a celebration! not a protest! right? the evidence is abundant and clear! this is a win, all right. but it is a win for the koch brothers. they are the ones who fund the conservative bill mill alec, the american legislative exchange council. we covered this long ago. alec is a group that is funded by large corporate interests and the koch brothers that writes physically writes model bills for state legislatures and this bill is straight out of the alec playbook. the language in it is almost identical, almost exactly the same as alec's model right to work act. the labor leaders are vowing to
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fight this until the bitter end be. a high-ranking official told talking points memo "if this bill is signed today it will be a thunderdome for governor snyder and michigan for the next two years. all options are on the table. this fight is far from over." it is my pleasure to welcome michigan senate democratic leader gretchen whitmer coming to us from lansing. senator whitmer, thank you so much for joining us inside "the war room." >> i'm glad to be here with you governor. >> jennifer: all right. so you're in the thick of it. and in fact, i think you staged a sit-in with reverend jesse jackson and mayor virg bernero today. can you describe the scene at the capitol today? >> sure, governor. well, you know, before i even got my girls off to school, there were over 8,000 people at the capitol. by the end of the day estimates were upwards of 13,000.
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these are people who came here because they saw the governor trampling over our rights of speech, of our rights to participate in the debate. of our rights to have scrutiny of the bills. this governor last week actually locked people out of the capitol so they couldn't even come in and see what was happening. and so people are angry. i'm angry! i never thought i would see this happen in michigan. and in the most disgusting way! this is anti-worker. anti-family. anti-woman. and the way they're doing it is anti-american. and so people came down to the capitol today mostly peaceful protests but to let this governor know he is on the wrong side of this issue. he's lied to us for two years and we're not going to forget this going forward. >> jennifer: okay. you mention the process that was used. the republicans, they were able to push this through very quickly with, you know, without the light of day.
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so tell people how specifically they were able to do that and what did your caucus do to try to stop them? >> well, for two years governor snyder has been on the roll talking about how this is too divisive for michigan. it is not right for 2012. although last i checked it is still 2012 and he's done an about-face. last week, he held a press conference from his locked room from the romney office building across from the capitol and announced he's changing his position. governor i've been calling him asking what is the plan? what is his vision. he won't call me back so i crashed his press conference and i was the first person to ask him questions and they threw me out. then they run these bills. they don't have any hearings. they pass in the same -- within 24 hours these bills were before us and they had passed through the state senate. at that point they locked people out of the capitol and even tried to take away my right to
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speak on the senate floor. i've never seen anything like this. it is such an over-arching power grap. they tried to cut the whole public out. we used every parliamentary tool at our disposal to try to slow things down and give people a chance to be heard. >> jennifer: so what was going on behind the scenes that actually caused the governor to flip-flop? >> well, like i said, we don't talk very often obviously despite all of his calls for bipartisanship. he's turned out to be one of the biggest political hacks in town. apparently he doesn't take my call but he'll ain the call of the -- he'll answer the call of the koch brothers. >> jennifer: is this going to cause you to run for governor against snyder? >> nothing's going to cause me to run. we'll see what happens in 2014. i don't have plans to but every time i see this kind of a power grab, this kind of a contempt for the public, i get angry and i know we can do better.
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michigan is not a red state or a blue state. we're a state that needs leadership. we just overwhelmingly re-elected president obama and senator debbie stabenow. pro-woman, pro-worker people. that's what this state wants and that's not what we're getting in the executive office right now here in michigan. >> jennifer: i know that you have to be -- you and your senate colleagues, have to be pulling your hair out. i know you've been in the minority in the senate for awhile. you were in the minority when i was there but at least we had a house as a backstop. now this ramrodding of stuff through the legislature has got to take a toll, i would imagine on senate relations. how are they? >> there's no question that there is nothing more divisive that this governor could have pushed through in a lame duck session. in any part of session but doing it during lame duck is especially gut-churning because we saw seven republicans lose their seats in the last two years because people reject this kind of extreme divisive agenda. it is like they drop an atomic
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bomb on the place. no one should be surprised if the environment on every single issue before us has changed. it is unfortunate because michigan's got very serious issues. very tough challenges where they really are -- people want us to find common ground. i don't know if that's going to be possible. >> jennifer: so what's the next step in the battle? is there going to be an effort to put it on the ballot? >> we're calling on the governor to veto it. i don't know that he has the backbone and courage to do something like that. it would be nice if they took the money out of the bill so people can take this to a referendum and have a say. i do anticipate there will be legal challenges. as you mentioned, at the front of the show, they carved out and treated different people in different ways and i think that could be subject to an equal protection argument as well as the number of other potentially legal challenges. >> jennifer: well, i'm just feeling for you so much in michigan. thank you so much, senator whitmer. michigan senate democratic
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leader gretchen whitmer thanks so much for coming inside "the war room." before we go any further with this i want -- i'm compelled to share how i feel about this. because what is happening to this beautiful state what is happening to a state where we, as senator whitmer said, we've treated workers with dignity. we have cherished our environment. we have respected open and transparent democracy. this act is called the workplace fairness and equity act. what a ridiculous name. it is surely going to give historians a big laugh into the future. i'm wondering if the free beer and ice cream act already was used. fairness and equity like the term right to work itself. the act does the opposite of its name. there is nothing fair. there's nothing equitable about crushing unions and driving down
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wages which is exactly what right to work does. the president said right to work is really right to work for less. the facts are very straightforward about that. workers in states with right-to-work laws earn about $5,000 less per year than workers in states with collective bargaining and it is not just pay. right-to-work states spend almost $2700 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education. the rate of workplace deaths is 53% higher! that is bad news for america's workers. but it's great news for mcdonald's or walmart or any of the corporations who are paying full-time employees so little that they're categorized as poor. it is true that global businesses want places to easily pay less to workers without clout. they want to locate there. just like they want to pay people less than their own home
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countries. but their countries also may not have our minimum wage or our child labor laws or our safe fireproof factories. should america be in a race to the bottom? or should we leave the treatment of workers with, dare i say fairness and equity? but this is not about economics. this is about politics. think about the ramifications of these figures. union employees receive 28% more in wages and benefits than nonunion ones. for women the une advantage is 34%. for african-americans, it is 29%. for hispanics the union advantage is a whopping 50%! union members african-americans, women and hispanics. is it a coincidence that these are the groups that are hurt most? this is the republican party
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agenda. paid for by wealthy people who can buy our government and shape it for their own personal benefit. this is strategy of people like the koch brothers and the devos family. they want to ensure a permanent republican majority by cutting off democratic fund-raising unions and by punishing the constituencies of democratic parties. you'll notice this. the strategy that they have doesn't involve winning the battle of ideas. it doesn't involve building coalitions for the republican party or expanding the republican tent. their strategy is all about extinguishing their opponent, killing off their support kill off their votes and their money. this is profound, people. if they can bring working people to their knees in michigan, they can and they will do it anywhere. make no mistake. the koch brothers are bringing
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this sad movie to a capitol near you. they're going state to state to dismantle the democratic infrastructure from the inside, brick by brick. the headline candidate like mitt romney come and go. but the real power the billionaires, the corporations behind the republican party they just pile up victories like this even after a crushing defeat. i'm confident that the american people know this is a long war and that they can smell a rat a mile away. and that we will let them gnaw away at everything we've fought so hard to achieve. you've got something else coming if you think that's the case. we are not done with this one. not by a long shot. coming up, this is a story that goes from the national level all
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the way into your living room and we're going to hear from some of the key voices at the center of this including teamsters president james hoffa. it is a fired up war room on a tueseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseseses
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>> we are the union. >> we are the union. >> jennifer: that's the sound of everyday workers taking to streets outside michigan's capitol today. the bill is called right to work. but it should be called right to work for less as the president has said. and no one knows that more than the teachers with their family's futures on the line. hundreds of teachers took the day off from school and joined today's protests. according to the national education association michigan ranks ninth in the country with the average salary for a public teacher being $63,940.
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here's how one teacher summed up the bill. >> wages will go down. benefits will go down and it is going to hurt small business. it is going to hurt local business. it is just going to hurt michigan. >> jennifer: she's right. lots of pain with this bill. and joining me now is one of the teachers who left her classroom to join the battle to stop the bill. monroe high school history teacher sara ziegler is joining us from michigan. thanks for coming. >> thank you for having me, governor. >> jennifer: you bet. so let's just dial back for a second and explain to people how is it that unions help teachers in the classroom? >> well, in addition to bargaining our wages and our benefits, we're also able to bargain our class size, we're able to bargain supplies. all of the things that we need to do a good job and teach the youth of tomorrow. >> jennifer: you mention to
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bargain your wages. talk about what it will mean when -- as this is signed for you to be able to collectively bargain in your school. >> well, as you probably already know governor snyder has done a lot of things to tie our hands in collective bargaining already if your contract expires your wages are frozen. you have to pay the increase in your health insurance. so he's already done some things to sort of hamper collective bargaining so this is just one more blow to us. it will be more difficult with less funding and less voices behind us to be able to sit at the table and get a good contract bargain. >> jennifer: well, the president of your union calls the bill the freedom to freeload bill. what are you hearing from your colleagues? if unions are so important for teachers, why wouldn't they pay
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their dues? >> there's not a teacher in my union that would probably want to not be in the union. but times are really tough. we're making less this year than we made last year. and i know some of my colleagues are losing their homes. some of my colleagues are struggling to make their bills. and so it is not really a matter of whether or not they want to be in the union. it is a matter of whether they can afford to pay the union dues when they have the choice between paying the union dues or putting christmas presents under the tree for your kids. it is not that they don't want to pay their union dues, it is just they're forced into a position that, you know, hard to make a choice, a good choice. >> jennifer: but isn't that exactly what the republicans are arguing that teachers should get a choice on where their money goes. what's the response to that? >> well, teachers should have a choice where their money goes. however, if you are going to receive services, you should be paid for those services.
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or you should be paying in for the services. for example if i don't want to pay my taxes and i want full-services from the state they're not going to go for that. i mean they're still going to expect me to pay my taxes and my fair share. that's all we're asking of folks. we want you to pay your fair share. you don't have to be a member of the union. you still have to pay the fee to be -- to get benefits from the organization. >> jennifer: so what are you worried about now in your school now that the bill has been signed or will be signed tomorrow apparently? what are you worried about on the ground? >> i'm just worried that you know collective bargaining will continue to be more difficult. it will be harder to keep our class sizes down. as it is right now i have class sizes at 37, 38 and 39 students.
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when i started teaching ten years ago, that was unheard of. we had average class sizes of 25 to 30 kids. so i expect class sizes to possibly get bigger for us. i expect it to be harder to get the things that we need to do a good job in the classroom. and be the teacher that our kids need us to be. >> jennifer: well, you are a history teacher and unfortunately a witness to some of the most infuriating bit of history being made today. i can imagine for of all places michigan. sara sweat ziegler history teacher at monroe high school. thank you for joining us inside "the war room." up next, the fact of the matter is for a lot of republicans tearing apart unions is a no-brainer. not only do they get a milk bone and a pat on the head from the likes of the koch brothers but they also get to punch a hole in the democratic party. we're going to get intntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntntnt
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every day presents another exciting issue. from financial regulation, fraud on wall street. things everyday exploding around the world that leave no shortage for exciting conversations. at the end of the show, you know what has happened, why its happened and more importantly, what's going to happen tomorrow.
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>> the republicans in michigan have done a couple of steps. one, they redrew the district lines to help them in the next election. now they're trying to control the money flow to the democratic party to make it easier for republicans to stay in control. we're not going to let that happen. >> he said it well. that's right. the people of michigan are on to you, legislative republicans. but make no mistake about it. undoing this deed will be a tough battle because as much as it pains me to say it, democrats are very much in the minority in the michigan capitol. republicans control the house the senate, the governorship, the attorney general the
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secretary of state the supreme court. it is a bit of a different picture from a few years ago when i was governor and we at least controlled the house. but there is hope. this is a blue state. it went for the president by 9 points. so the question is how can the democrats recover and re-claim the legislative agenda in michigan and beyond michigan. well here to answer that question is the chairman of michigan's democratic party he's mark brewer, the nation's longest-serving party chairman. he joins us from lansing. he knows this stuff in and out. mark, thanks so much for being here in "the war room" on this sad and infuriating night. >> thank you governor. it is great to be with you as always. >> jennifer: all right. tell us what does the success of these bills mean for the democratic party in michigan? >> certainly the intent of the republicans is that this be a mechanism to defund, to hurt money that goes to the democratic party. we've obtained rid of videotapes
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of ron wiser and others talking about this governor. >> jennifer: tell people who ron wiser is. >> ron wiser is the former chair of the republican party here. rich is the dnc finance chair. he along with your former opponent, dick devos and other rich folks have been planning this for years. they couldn't get away with it while you were governor but they saw their opportunity here. they don't talk about worker's rights and choice. they talk about how can we hurt the labor movement and hurt the democratic party. that's their goal here. >> jennifer: all right. so let's talk about -- because michelle are is norris another . [ whistle ] how do you think this will roll across other states? it is the first blue state to become right to work. do you think we'll see it across the country? >> yes. that's what people need to be alerted to here. if they can do it in michigan, which has the fifth highest concentration of union members in the country this can be done
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anywhere. so people need to pay attention to that. we're going to do everything we can to roll this back but if they can do it in michigan, they can do it elsewhere. >> jennifer: mark, you started to mention this. you've got a reputation for understanding the very complex rules of the political money stuff better than anybody else. so how is this going to affect democratic party fund-raising and democratic party membership? >> well, i don't think it will hurt us on membership. actually governor, i'm expecting a backlash as a result of this. so many people in the state who voted for snyder, who thought he was a moderate. they've been convinced he's betrayed them and lied to them. there will be a political backlash which we can take advantage of. that being said, it will hurt union's ability to raise money which can be spent not just by the democratic party but on political candidates. that's the intent of this and that will be the short term and long-term impact of it if we allow it to stand.
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>> jennifer: the republicans say, of course, as you've heard this is an opportunity for the unions. and it is true that every group needs to evolve with the times and since labor is now such a shrinking percentage of the work force, not just in michigan but across the country because of laws like this, how would you recommend that organized labor upgrade its message to be able to counter the forces and the money on the right? >> i think their members get it. the m.e.a. member you spoke to gets it. this is not about choice and worker rights. the last people were -- or the koch brothers or devos. they get that this is about an attack on the organization, the only organization that is standing up for them and fighting back for them not just at the bargaining table but in lansing. people get that. that's what we've got to do. we've got to spread that message and also make sure people understand, even if you're not a union member, you benefit from
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the advocacy on your behalf. not just in terms of raising wages and benefits but their political advocacy. the labor movement has fought for every worker, not just those who are members. that's our challenge. >> jennifer: that's the big message is that this is not just about those who are in the union. so mark, what -- i don't know if you've had a chance to talk in caucus and regroup but what is the next move? i know lawsuits have been suggested but what about additional ballot proposals? what can we expect to see next? >> all options are on the table. by putting the appropriation on this bill, they blocked us from a referendum unless snyder vetoes that which no one expects using the line-item veto. we'll be taking a look at ballot proposals and an initiative to override this. we'll be using this politically as we get into 2014. there will be litigation. there may be legal questions about how this bill was pushed through and you heard that a little bit from gretchen whitmer a little bit ago. there are also serious constitutional questions.
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a number of workers were excluded from this bill. this is clearly purely political retaliation for the failed union proposal, proposal 2. there may be a first amendment issue here as well. that will all be explored and lawsuits will be brought if appropriate. >> jennifer: you're the right guy to be at the head of the effort. i appreciate you coming inside "the war room," mark. i'm sorry about what is a really sad day for michigan. hopefully it gets people fired up to not sit back and take it and be an example of how to respond. that's the head of michigan's democratic party mark brewer. up next, few men in the world have a better understanding of unions and what they mean to michigan and what they mean to this country than teamsters president james hoffa. he's going to join me next. you're watching "the war room" on current tv.
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>> jennifer: veto is the rallying cry of unions inside a michigan's capitol this afternoon. veto! all night we've been discussion the republican steam rolling through legislation letting union members opt out of paying dues. the bills as i mentioned spared police and firefighters but not all other unions from teachers to autoworkers to you know who. republican governor rick snyder could sign the bills tomorrow. it is going to make michigan the country's 24th state with these right-to-work laws. aside from harming michigan's unions the aim of course, is also to hurt labors' biggest ally the democratic party. joining us for how today's developments in michigan are going to play out nationally, i'm joined by teamsters president james p. hoffa. jim, thank you so much for taking out the time to talk to us "the war room." >> thank you very much. great to be on your show.
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>> jennifer: i appreciate -- because i know you were there today at the capitol. what was it like for you? >> well, we had thousands and thousands of union people from all unions, teamsters uaw building trades and everybody was outraged with what's going on. michigan is basically the most unionized state in the country. and for the governor to pull this, you know, with a lame duck session of the legislature not even trusting the new legislature to do this so fast with no hearings really was an outrage and people were yelling and screaming and demonstrating against it. and basically they're outraged, at a minimum this should have been put to a vote of all of the people of michigan. you know, if he really wanted to do that. what's incredible is he was really saying this is not on his agenda. and all of a sudden in five days with the lame duck session of the state legislature, he jams
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it through. no hearings, no testimony from labor. done. >> jennifer: what was going on there? why did he do that? >> well, i think you hit on it. i think this is a bigger thing. this is a payback. they were convinced that they have a republican governor or republican house republican senate in michigan and that they were going to deliver this state for mitt romney and obama won it by 9 points. won it big. and they are putting together -- saying how do we stop the democratic party in michigan? by labor. i think there is a bigger picture here. it is not about -- they don't really give a damn about workers. we're talking about dick devos, the billionaires and millionaires of amway. we're talking about you know, different type of people like the koch brothers. they don't care about workers. this is about power. how do we work, weaken the
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democratic party in michigan so next time, maybe in '16, we can win it. >> jennifer: it is more than michigan right. you're a head of the teamsters. national global union. what's the next front in the battle across the country? you expect this to app elsewhere, i assume. >> they're fighting against everywhere. they're trying to do this in new hampshire. luckily, we were able to get a strong -- a new democratic governor in new hampshire but right to work has been active there. they're pushing it day and night. they're going to start all over again. last time governor lynch vetoed it. now we have a new democratic governor and she said that she will veto it if they bring it up again. it is a fight going on there. it is going on in missouri. it is not just michigan. but like in missouri, we've got a strong democratic governor out there who says that if it gets to his desk, he'll veto it. so far we've been able to stop it.
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but this michigan, this was lame duck. jam it down our throat. no vote of the people. no discussion. it's done. and this is an outrage and we're going to do everything we can to reverse it. we're going go to court. we're going to get this thing on the ballot. and if anything happens to the people of michigan -- the people of michigan should decide. >> jennifer: just quickly this is the birthplace of the union movement. it is also your home state and mine. did you ever think this would happen in michigan? >> never! never in my lifetime! people there you know, people go back to labor movement is the basics of michigan going back you know to the '30s. the sit-down strikes. this was where unions were born. it is unionism. the right wing has scored a coup here. it is short-lived but it really hurts in your craw that they could do something like this without a vote and basically lame duck, middle of the night five hours ram it through.
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we don't give a damn about anybody. this is basically the right wing's revenge. >> jennifer: time for some democratic revenge. all right. teamsters president james hoffa, thank you so much for joining us by phone in lansing. and coming up, you heard mr. hoffa say it. in the end it all comes down to money. dark money. koch brothers money. blood money. it poured into michigan the way it poured into wisconsin and surprise surprise, here we are. that s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s (vo) she gets the comedians laughing and the thinkers thinking. >>ok, so there's wiggle room in the ten commandments, that's what you're saying. (vo) she's joy behar. >>current will let me say anything.
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>> jennifer: as we've been telling you all evening michigan republicans are the help of the koch brothers are trying to cripple the state's unions but the brothers koch aren't the only shadowy figures
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who have a dog in this fight. here to tell us about the other forces behind the dark money polluting michigan politics and the politics elsewhere is lee fong with the nation. lee, welcome back inside "the war room." >> thanks for having me. >> jennifer: you bet. i want to start with showing a graphic which is really quite jaw-dropping. we're going to put it up right now. the green and the purple bars represent money spent in michigan by anti-union advocacy groups. the orange bar represents money spent by prolabor advocacy groups. lee, how is it possible that anti-union forces have vastly outspent prounion forces in what is the labor capital of america. >> since the 1970s, right wing billionaires and their corporate allies have spent a lot of money constructing a large political machine composed of these think tanks and advocacy groups. labor unions have only spent most of their political money on elections. so they don't have the political resources to compete and this
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disparity's gotten much and much worse over the recent years. >> jennifer: it simply gets worse every time a bill like the ones passed in michigan are passed. >> right. >> jennifer: obviously. let's talk about the specific folks that are behind this spending in michigan. on the anti-union side. let's begin with one of my favorites. dick devos who ran against me for governor in 2006. he's a billionaire. he's the heir to the amway fortune. what role is he playing in the attempt to cripple the unions? >> well, there's evidence that suggests that devos family has been planning this for over a decade. there's been a video circulating today showing he's been planning what happened in michigan since 2007, they've been working on an ambush plan to push right to work. they considered putting it on the ballot but instead they decided to focus their money on state legislative races, on the governor's race and we're seeing the fruition of that today. >> jennifer: we're also seeing -- it is interesting that the bill itself actually mirrored the bills that alec put
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out and alec, of course is funded by some others including the koch brothers who also fund americans for prosperity. i want to play a sound byte from the executive director of this koch brothers funded group americanss to prosperity. take a listen. his name is scott hagger strom. >> like any organization, unions want to grow and get larger. so to get larger, the area growth is government. and in order to get even larger, they have to grow government. they have to raise taxes. they have to increase regulation. more employees, more employees. so we fight these battles with taxes and regulations but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees. >> jennifer: taking the unions out at the knees. that's really the koch brothers' agenda right? >> in traditional public policy debates, you have stakeholders working together trying to figure out the best outcome. americans for prosperity is different. they're funded and financed by
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the koch brothers. they're not interested in michigan workers. what they're interested in is raw, political power. americans for prosperity chapters in almost every state. they're pushing the same agenda, kneecapping unions and democrats. >> jennifer: the americans for prosperity, the koch brothers group had an attempt on the cap -- had a tent on the capitol lawn today. it was on the lawn last week as well. there is another group in michigan that gets a lot of funding called the mackinac center. a very conservative think tank. tell -- what is that and have they had a role in this as well? >> americans for prosperity has provided the grassroots cover for governor snider to act as he did. but the mackinac center provides the intellectual cover. they put out studies and reports say that right to work is great for michigan and it will create lots of jobs. they're cookie cutter reports from other right wing think tanks in d.c. the mackinac center is part of a 50-state network of right wing
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advocacy groups. a sister organization to the mackinac center. the mciver institute in wisconsin was pivotal in pushing governor walker to do basically the same thing. >> jennifer: it is why they call it the kochtopus. they're everywhere. lee fong, thank you so much again for coming inside "the war room." lee fong of "the nation." up next, what's the first thing you should do if you find yourself embroiled in a national scandal? you give chris lehane a call. that wouldn't be the worst idea. author of "masters of disaster" joins us next. i think the number one thing that viewers like about the young turks is that we're honest. they can question whether i'm right, but i think that the audience gets that this guy, to the best of his ability, is trying to look out for us.
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>> jennifer: breaking news out of michigan tonight. at this moment, governor rick snyder has signed those bills into law. so right to work is now officially the law of the land in michigan. we are -- i'm glad, joined by crisis communications expert and war room veteran chris he lehane who has worked on so many campaigns. quickly, i mean your thoughts on what it would be like for you as somebody who has run a number of campaigns to have done it without the support of the labor movement. >> labor has been the heart and soul of the democratic party for more than a generation, for several generations both from a foot soldiers on the ground perspective, from a financial perspective but also from the morality of what labor stands for. people in this country we have a middle class. in large part because of organized labor.
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>> >> jennifer: the more the labor shrinks the more the middle class -- >> as labor has gone down, you have the eight-hour work day child safety law, you go through all of the laws that have made the people safer and they lead back to organized labor. >> jennifer: it is a sad day. but we're actually going to talk about another crisis. another kind of crisis which is when people experience a personal crisis and they happen to be candidates or in office and they turn to crisis communications experts of which you are one. you are the author of a new book called "masters of disaster," the ten commandments of damage control which we're showing there on the screen. and you've had a great career in politics. this sort of side light of being able to manage crises is very interesting. you worked, for example in the clinton administration. why did you go into crisis communications? >> what we took out of working in the white house on the various campaigns really a
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modern day white house or modern day presidential campaign is a series of crises or one large crisis. particularly in politics, people are under tremendous exposure. not a question of if it is going to come out but when it is going to come out. people have adversaries pushing information out. at the end of the day we talk about this in the past, it is about trust. who do you trust. and so learning how to operate in that atmosphere in the political environment at the white house you know, clearly was something we developed and translated when we left politics. >> jennifer: every crisis is a little bit different. lewinski was a big crisis. so what lessons can you draw out of something like that? a massive personal crisis. >> there's three basic principles of survival we talk about. one is do no harm. you find yourself in the hole, stop digging. don't bring the backhoe in. >> jennifer: meaning you don't say stuff that you're not going to have to regret. age-old line which has existed
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forever. it is not the crime. it is the cover-up. whether the guy in his cubicle who hits reply all or a presidential crisis, oftentimes, it is the effort to cover it up that creates a bigger problem. number two is you have to have discipline and recognize that you need a plan. you need to stick with it. you have a purpose about your plan. third is ultimately your way back which is credibility is the point of the realm. people know that bad things happen. they evaluate you on how you handle it going forward. so if your northstar is to rebuild trust the path to get there is by being a credible organization or business. >> jennifer: would you recommend to people in a personal crisis you get out-front immediately and apologize? >> it is somewhat dependent on the nature of the circumstances. if you make the evaluation that worst-case scenario, if this information gets out can i survive? if you come to the conclusion that you cannot survive or that your survival will be threatened, it makes sense to be out there. i mean look at our first commandment in the book is full
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disclosure. because if it's going to come out, it is much better to put it out under your terms. you get to shape it the way you want and you also begin to address the credibility issue. >> jennifer: let's just look at a crisis that's swirling. there is a tennessee congressman, scott des jar lace who has affairs and exhorts his mistress or mistresses, i'm not sure, how many to get abortions and what do you -- that's obviously a personal crisis but it is a crisis of hypocrisy as well. >> that's exactly right. one of the things we do talk about in the book is when you're in a crisis, remove the emotion from it which is hard. people are involved. spouses are involved. family is involved but you have to have a disciplined approach. you can't get caught up in the fog of the crisis. for him, i think he may fall into that category of which i would call a deep to dark inspinnable place. i'm not sure -- >> jennifer: he won the election which is what is amazing to me.
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obviously he's able to recoup somewhat. it is a very strange thing. >> strange story. >> jennifer: it is. this gives tips, too i'm sure on how to -- whether somebody should go dark. whether somebody should go underground for a period of time. how they rehabilitate once that happens. >> that's exactly right. you know, people are out there and put out on your terms, at that point in time, you can shut up. i think we're seeing that happen right now in the general petraeus situation. general petraeus came out. not a perfect way but got it out there. apologized, took responsibility and now has gotten into his bunker right. i'm guessing he's going to have a long-term plan to come back. he he's something to fall back on because of his military credentials and his professional career. he's made the opportunity available to himself by getting out front with the first part and putting himself in a position to have a comeback. >> jennifer: chris lehane, author of "masters of disaster,"
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